Australia will cooperate with Norway on the development of the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) for the F-35A Lightning II JSF.
Under development by Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, the aim is to ensure the JSM, an air-launched development of the land-based Naval Strike Missile (NSM) will be available for the RAAF’s forthcoming fleet of F-35As, according to an announcement by Defence Minister Kevin Andrews.
He says: “This agreement builds on the countries’ long-standing bilateral cooperation on research and development of Defence equipment and acknowledges the importance of a robust maritime strike capability to Norway and Australia.
“Participating now in a cooperative JSM development program with Norway will maximise the cost effectiveness of Australia’s contribution and ensure the weapon capability is developed and integrated onto the F-35A in the timeline required by Australia, should the Joint Strike Missile be ultimately considered for acquisition by government later this decade.
“Australian industry will participate in the development of the JSM by providing specialist expertise in missile guidance and control technology.”
The JSM is designed to fit inside the F-35A’s weapons bay, and features a faceted low observable mould line that makes it difficult to detect on approach to its target.
JSF program sub-contractor BAE systems Australia welcomed the announcement, saying it is a positive step for international collaboration.
BAE Systems Australia’s director Land and Integrated Systems Graeme Bent says: “We have been working with Kongsberg Defence Aerospace AS on the electronics for a second, independent sensor within the missile to identify hostile radar targets.
“This agreement enables BAE and Kongsberg to continue their industrial cooperation on the passive radio frequency (RF) sensor, supporting its transition to qualification and manufacture.”
BAE says it will deliver a pre-production passive RF sensor for the JSM program in April, involving fit checks, system integration and flight-testing for a development-standard missile, designed to demonstrate it provides enhanced operational capability.